FEATURE: Building the ultimate accessible kitchen environment

AKW

Multi-user kitchens, bathrooms and workplaces are an increasingly common requirement in many types of accommodation. Wheelchair users and people with limited mobility need a safe and accessible environment — an environment that allows them to operate with maximum independence and participate fully in family, work and social life.

At the same time, many buildings lack sufficient space to install separate work surfaces, sinks and hobs at different heights. That creates the risk that adaptations designed to include some members of the household will compromise access by others.

The ideal solution in many mixed-use environments is the installation of adjustable height work surfaces. As with all aspects of inclusive design, however, it is often the small details that make the difference between a safe and enjoyable environment and an unsatisfactory compromise.

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The rise and fall cupboard can be electrically lowered to work surface height

But Worcestershire-based AKW, a leading provider of disabled showers, wetrooms and kitchens, believes it has found the answer to the challenges that users and specifiers face with its ActivMotion rise and fall units.

Product manager, Stuart Reynolds, says the units incorporate everything the company has learned in three decades as a specialist designer and manufacturer of accessible products. “Their design draws upon the input of the families and households that use inclusive environments, the occupational therapists and healthcare professionals who specify them, and the landlords, local authorities and care providers who install and maintain them,” explains Reynolds.

The robust, silent electric drive system incorporated into ActivMotion units allows work surface height to be adjusted between 690mm and 1100mm at the touch of a button. That wide adjustment accommodates the fullest possible range of users, whether they are in a wheelchair, prefer to work on a stool or chair, or have to stoop uncomfortably to use a conventional work surface. A lifting speed of 30mm/s means adjustment is quick and convenient. The controls can be located wherever required, while an optional remote switch provides additional flexibility.

“To complement our adjustable work surfaces, the ActivMotion rise and fall cupboard provides a standard size 500mm or 600m wall mounted storage unit that can be electrically lowered to work surface height,”
adds Reynolds.

“The work surface materials and cupboard doors can be chosen to match the rest of the room, and units can accommodate standard sinks and hobs”

AKW, which employs more than 250 trained staff, operates its own fleet of 40-plus vehicles and runs two national distribution warehouses covering 100,000 square feet. The company’s scale and service is reflected in the competitive pricing and first-class customer support that it endeavours to provide.

Safety is engineered into all of AKW’s units, with built-in overload protection stopping the actuators if motion is impeded, and an optional safety strip installed under the work surface to provide additional protection for the user’s legs. Robust, rigid construction and precise control reduces the risk of spillages during use.

ActivMotion rise and fall cupboards also incorporate collision detection on both upward and downward movements, preventing breakages and the risk of injury.

Work surface height can be adjusted between 690mm and 1100mm

The units are available in floor-standing or wall-mounted configurations. If one of the standard sizes won’t suit the requirements of a space, their simple, modular construction allows it to deliver a precisely made-to-measure alternative, usually within 14 days, explains Reynolds. Units can be supplied in any width from 500mm to 3000mm, while L-shaped variants can be up to 3000mm x 3000mm.

“The work surface materials and cupboard doors can be chosen to match the rest of the room, and units can accommodate standard sinks and hobs,” says Reynolds. “We can also supply a range of shallow sinks that are more accessible for seated users, while insulated bowls protect the user’s legs from heat injury. Sliding modesty panels installed on wall mounted units keep pipes and cables safely and neatly out of the way.”

With contemporary height-adjustable solutions, dealers can create accessible kitchens that support independent living and at the same time don’t look out of place in the environment they are installed.

System specification

Specifying an ActivMotion system is normally straightforward, but AKW’s specialist surveyors can also work directly with individuals, clients and occupational therapists to identify the most suitable solution for bespoke requirements. All products have been designed with ease of installation and long-term durability in mind, and a dedicated technical support team is ready at the end of the phone to resolve any technical queries during installation or use.

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